Third Sitting of the Northern Cape House of Traditional Leaders

Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Hazel Jenkins, on the occasion of the Third Sitting of the Northern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, 15 April 2011

The Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi PS Bareki
Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Legislature
Honourable Members of the Executive Council
Esteemed Members of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders
Distinguished Guests,

It is a great pleasure for me to once again address this esteemed house on the occasion of the third sitting of the Northern Cape House of Traditional Leaders.

This occasion takes place exactly twelve days before the people of our Motherland, South Africa, will be celebrating Freedom Day which marked a turning point in the history of our country.

The achievement of our freedom on April 27 1994 has led to the adoption of the most progressive Constitution in the world. This is the Constitution that outlines the rights of all our citizens, the values that underpin our society and the institutions that are central to the upholding, protection and promotion of these rights and values. It is a Constitution that also recognises the status, role and place of institutions of traditional leadership. It is the very same Constitution that made provision for the establishment of the House of Traditional Leaders.

Indeed, Traditional leaders are strategically positioned and have a key role to play as development partners with government, to act as agents of change and build a better life for all our people.

This occasion also takes place at the juncture of our transformation process where our country is poised to hold its fourth democratic local government elections. The local elections will entrench the key priorities identified by government and mark the change of leadership at a local government level. We recognise the crucial role which traditional leaders must play at this critical level of local government which is closest to our people.

In this regard, I trust that every traditional leader will encourage people to exercise their democratic right by casting their ballot on 18 May 2011.

There is no doubt that traditional leaders have a critical role to play in matters of local governance and service delivery. Within the context of our democratic system of local government, we will continue to entrench the participation of traditional leadership institutions in development planning and service delivery initiatives.

Last year, during the opening of the House of Traditional Leaders, we also raised a number of development challenges that we must address collectively to build vibrant and flourishing communities. We indicated that traditional leaders must become catalysts of change and development in serving their communities. We affirmed the fact that they must work in collaboration with the sphere of local government to make a tangible difference in the lives of poor communities and uplift our communities for the better. It is a known fact that our rural areas are characterised by extreme poverty and high levels of underdevelopment.

Chairperson, to continue making progress towards a prosperous future we need an economy that creates more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods. We need better quality local public services with access for all. We need to create more united, non-racial, integrated and safer communities; and to strengthen local participation, with effective, transparent, accountable and clean government.

Local government thus has a critical role in the implementation of our key priority areas. It is the closest sphere of government to our people, and the first point of contact with government by communities.

We are committed to further strengthening the voice of communities by ensuring that all councillors serve the people they represent and are accountable to them.

The values of social justice and elimination of inequalities, which are aimed at creation of a better life for all our people, remain the central guiding pillars of our government.

It is for this reason that the enormity of underdevelopment and poverty challenges that beset our communities should continue to spur on our collective leadership to pursue the essential goal of creating a better life for the people of the province, especially in underdeveloped rural areas falling within the jurisdiction of traditional leaderships.

To ensure that these priorities are successfully implemented, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is imperative that, as government, we continue to enhance effective partnerships with the institution of traditional leadership in improving the quality of service delivery in areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.

In his State of the Nation address, on 10 February 2011 President Jacob Zuma categorically stated that:
“To address these concerns, we have declared 2011 a year of job creation through meaningful economic transformation and inclusive growth.

We introduced a New Growth Path that will guide our work in achieving these goals, working within the premise that the creation of decent work is at the centre of our economic policies”.

Honourable members, it is common knowledge that poverty and underdevelopment challenges are more prominent in rural areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders. As a response to these challenges, government has prioritised rural development as one of the key interventions to receive special attention over the next five years.

It is for this reason that I have observed during the State of the Province Address that despite the significant progress that we have made over the last 17 years, people living in rural areas continue to face the harshest conditions of poverty and lack of access to land and basic services. As government, we are committed to a comprehensive and clear rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform, improvement of the conditions of farm workers and farm-dwellers and build the potential for sustainable rural livelihoods.

In this regard, Government will, amongst others:

• Intensify the land reform programme to ensure that more land is in the hands of the rural poor and will provide them with technical skills and financial resources to productively use the land to create sustainable livelihoods and decent work in rural areas; and

• Review the appropriateness of the existing land redistribution programme, introduce measures aimed at speeding up the pace of land reform and redistribution and promote land ownership by South Africans.

As a province, we will continue to strengthen partnerships between government and the institution of traditional leadership to focus on rural development, fighting poverty and the delivery of public services in areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.

Critically, traditional leaders have a responsibility to make inputs and monitor progress and the impact of service delivery in traditional communities under their jurisdiction. To achieve this, it is essential that institutions of traditional leadership participate in ward committees, and communicate government service delivery programmes to communities. They should also be able to provide feedback from communities to allow for government plans and programmes to respond effectively to such needs.

Chairperson and Honourable members, we once more commit ourselves to continue to provide the necessary support to the Provincial and Local Houses of Traditional Leaders to ensure that they are able to execute their legislative mandates.

I have also remarked during the state of the Province Address that in 2011 the Provincial Government will focus on building capacity for Traditional Leaders as well as strengthening Traditional Institutions in order to achieve synergy with the developmental programme of government, both at the provincial and local spheres, in partnership with LGSETA and SALGA in the Province.

It is worth noting that the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders in the Northern Cape was established on the 1st of April 2009 and the secretariat consisting of two employees was appointed to render overall administrative, financial and advisory management support functions to the House.

The House elected its twelve members, comprising eight senior traditional leaders and four headmen under the chairpersonship of Kgosi PS Bareki and his deputy, Kgosi KE Jantjie.

Of historic importance to note was the inclusion of the eight Khoi-San representatives in the Provincial House. They were co-opted to participate in the proceedings of the House on behalf of their respective communities. They represented the following Khoi-San communities:
Nama
Korana
Griqua (Adam Kok & JJ Waterboer communities)
San (Khwe & Xu on the one hand and the Upington San community on the other)

Chairperson, and Ladies and Gentlemen; some of the issues that needed to be attended to included the forthcoming consultation process regarding the Khoi-San legislation. It will be critical to take into cognisance the possibility of new traditional councils and local houses in the would-be-recognized Khoi-San traditional communities, as well as the legitimate inclusion of the Khoi-San traditional leaders as opposed to the current status quo, where representatives are in the House.

The provincial government has also launched Operation Pula-Nala which is a comprehensive township rejuvenation programme that will change the face of our townships forever.

Operation-Nala will under the auspices of this particular Provincial Government, create the conditions necessary for the improvement of the quality of life for all the people in our beloved Province. Operation Nala will examine the extent of development in our townships and rural areas in an effort to tilt the scale to address major service delivery and related backlogs.

As a government collective, I also look forward to a closer and harmonious working relationship between traditional leaders and municipalities. Traditional leaders must also influence democratic processes at the local level by participating in municipal public engagement processes, especially in the compilation of Integrated Development Plans.

Indeed, working together with our traditional leaders, we will succeed to build better communities and sustainable human settlements.

Chairperson, I want to conclude by saying that our collective resolve to respond to the plight of the poor and needy communities should serve as a rallying point for our partnership to make a positive difference, and change the lives of the people of the Northern Cape for the better.

Whatever difficulties and challenges we face, we dare not lose focus of the responsibility at hand.

I wish the House well in discharging its responsibilities. I now declare the third sitting of the House of Traditional Leaders officially open.

I thank you.

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